I must say that by far, this is my favorite stage in her life so far and for once, I don't wish for something more. When she was born, I couldn't wait for her to crawl so that she didn't constantly need held. Then it was walking so that she didn't need help over insurmountable obstacles. Then it was talking so I could understand what she wanted. Then it was to mature a bit so I didn't constantly have to entertain her ever second of the day. But now, she is just right. She can talk and we can have entire conversations albeit on a simple level. She still wants to be around the action and still wants daddy to play with her but she can entertain herself for periods of time and not need constant monitoring in all situations. She says something that melts my heart on a daily basis and I am still the center of her world though she spends more time away from home (school, daycare, other activities) than with me at home, at least in an awake state. It is perfect and she could stay like that for the foreseeable future and I wouldn't mind, at least until I retire from the 9 to 5 gig. In another year, she will be starting kindergarten and though she is ready, I'm not sure I am ready. Perhaps soon after, dear old dad won't be cool out in public anymore and playing with dad after school will be traded for texting friends, hanging out in the bedroom listening to music I don't understand at too loud of a level, and all the other things teens do. But for now, she is still young, innocent and naive to the world which still revolves around me. She can do much by herself but prefers to do so in my company. It is my favorite stage.
This stage might not have been my favorite had I not quickly learned to harness the power of competitiveness. Evidently, four-year-old kids start becoming competitive amongst each other which is evident at any social event with more than one four year old. The air is full of "look at what I can do." I quickly used that mental edge mentioned above to gain the advantage. If she doesn't want to dress herself I will say lets race to see who gets dressed the fastest. If she doesn't want to go somewhere I will say lets race to see who gets their shoes on and out to the car the fastest. If she doesn't want to go to bed I will say, lets see who can get upstairs and start brushing our teeth the fastest. It works every time... for now. Sooner or later she will wisen up and I will lose a little bit of my mental edge but for now, I'm taking advantage of it.
I've lost a lot of ground on the food front and most of that is probably due to daycare. She won't eat when we are eating mostly because she is holding out for something she would prefer better. She knows that unless it is a weekend, she just has to hold out to daycare and then she can load up there. Mrs. Z at the daycare feeds her lots of fruit and vegetables but also a lot of baked french fries, chicken nuggets, fish sticks and those sorts of things that young kids seem to love. I have got her hooked on quesedillas which I fill with vegetables and other better for you foods which helps a bit but I've a lot of ground to make up. But she looks healthy and is growing like a weed so I guess I'm not too worried yet.
I'm not sure I ever mentioned this previously but when she was in preschool, she spent quite a bit of time bringing up Anthony. It was always Anthony this and Anthony that. So during our field trip to ride on Amtrak which I wrote about here, we were waiting in line to board and I struck up a conversation with the parent/kid combo beside me. When I inquired "and who is this" while looking at her child who looks like a mixed race child just like Little Abbey, she told me he was Anthony. I mentioned that my daughter talks all the time about Anthony which surprised the parent. She said when people talk to her about Anthony, it is usually about something bad he has done. Great I thought. My daughter is already hanging out with the trouble makers. Flash forward now to summer break and I finally got around to developing the film from one of those disposable cameras that we sent with her to school with her name on it. While looking at the pictures, she was pointing to the kids and naming each of them for my benefit. I asked her if she had a crush on Anthony when his picture came up. No she said, Anthony just lets me play with him. I feel a little bit better now... slightly.